Sunday, February 16, 2014

Vivian Girls: The Last Waltz

14 FEBRUARY, 2014
It was a bittersweet Valentine's Day as we gathered at the Church On York in LA to bid farewell to the Vivian Girls. As its members cycled into new projects, the band's fate became apparent, and they decided to make it official and give their fans some closure with a series of goodbye shows in NYC and LA, featuring Mark II of the band, lineup-wise, with OG members Cassie Ramone and Katy Goodman joined by drummer Ali Koehler, who replaced original drummer Frankie Rose. Since 2007, the band released three LP's, each with an increasing professionalism without sacrificing any heart. It's a natural life-cycle for a band, but that doesn't make the parting any easier.
Joining in for the evening's festivities were the Aquadolls and Colleen Green, whom we first caught up with in 2012 as part of the Jeff The Brotherhood/Diarrhea Planet traveling cavalcade of fun, and we'll meet again shortly in the company of Portland's Thermals. Last year saw the release of Sock It To Me on Sub-Pop subsidiary Hardly Art.
The Vivian Girls L.A. farewell was all one would hope for, high intensity from the get go, and lump in the throat at several points. It didn't take long for the cable-strewn altar steps to turn into a frothing pit, and as stage divers took flight, the speakers perched perilously on tripods quivered, but stood strong. Through their monitors the sound was good, but as one traversed the hall the high ceilings played havoc, and it was rough going hearing at the back of the house. At the end of the day though, it was the spirit of the show, and a band honoring its roots that couldn't be dimmed.

first stage diver prepares for flight...

Just to bring things full circle, here's a blast from the past, some memories from Vivian Girls appearance at Coachella in 2009:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chasms II: The Conjuring

08 FEBRUARY, 2014 
What started as a road trip to see Wax Idols first gig of 2014 took a hit when guitarist Hether Fortune sliced her finger open prior to the show. San Francisco's own Chasms stepped up to the plate and saved the night with an unexpected headlining gig. Within the cozy confines of UC Davis sits the house known as Chillanova, our gracious hosts for the evening. That my attorney and I weren't booted out on sight speaks well of both their hospitality and their sense of humor.
Lost in the scuffle about gentrification in The City and its impact on the music scene is the fact that a ton of bands still remain, and that most cities would be jealous of what is there, in both depth and diversity.
Instead of an anonymous opening slot in front of cross-armed attendees at least a body bag's length away from the stage, Chasms played on the floor in full light, shorn of the mystery of shadows. It was more direct, seduction turned into assault as they reached their peak.While it was not as overwhelming as being pumped through a club sound system, the house setting provided a warmth to their set, and they seemed to dial into a higher wavelength as jams became invocation. With a pair of cassette EP's on Dream Recordings and a 12" single and a forthcoming project on Sleep Genius under their belt, we look forward to tracking the continued progress of Jess Labrador and Sky Madden. On a closing note, sincere thanks to Chillanova House for providing a memorable evening.
My attorney takes stock of the situation...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cultist Zine Birthday Bash!

27 JANUARY, 2014
Mish Way and Hether Fortune (White Lung)
Getting the ball rolling on a new year in a big way, The Echo in Los Angeles presented Cultist Zine's 2nd anniversary celebration with Washing Machines, Heller Keller, Criminal Hygiene, and topped off by Vancouver's White Lung. Thanks to the good folks at Altamont Apparel, this four band bill was absolutely free. Short of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, there will be little competition this year in the value for dollar department.
Washing Machines got the party started with a bang and rewarded the early birds with a startling set straddling tune craft and dissonant guitar flights. Heller Keller pushed the pace with a brutal thrashy set that took no prisoners.
Criminal Hygiene finished up their January residency of Monday night shows with a flourish, doling out their particular brand of straight-ahead four on the floor rock with a high energy level, as if the Replacements stayed in the functional window. They had the home field advantage, with a crowd primed for their set, and they took advantage. It's hard to believe it's been a year since their LP, CRMNL HYGNE-keep an eye out for a forthcoming EP entitled Withdrawn.
White Lung was the cherry on top, setting off a series of relentless melodic detonations. There are few modern front-persons as compelling as lead singer Mish Way. She commanded the proceedings with a fervor and kept the audience on their toes. As a side note, she also penned one of the best pieces of music writing I read last year for Talkhouse, a simple column on a song that sums up one's relationship to music better than I could ever hope to.
Focusing on their most recent LP, "Sorry", the set was short and brutal. Sidenote two: sitting in on bass, none other than Wax Idols' Hether Fortune, and she was the perfect counterpoint for Way, partnering with drummer Anne-Marie Vassilou to anchor the churning guitar of Kenny William. As evidenced by the evening, the core trio is in good form, and it will be interesting to see where their next album takes them.
Yasi (Cultist) takes the spotlight